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Appendix II Naval Terms and Customs: Anchor Watch - Bells
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Naval Orientation - Military manual for administrative purposes
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Naval Terms and Customs -Continued: Chains - Coxswain
BILGE Bilge  usually   refers   to   the   bottom   of   the ship or, more correctly, to the curved part of the ship’s  hull.  It  also  has  another  connotation. Midshipmen  who  are  dropped  from  school  for academic  reasons  are  said  to  be  “bilged.”  Thus, when  used  as  a  verb,  the  term  means  to  be dropped   out   of   the   bottom—in   this   case   the bottom  of  the  class. BINNACLE  LIST The  binnacle  list   gets  its  name  from  the old nautical practice of placing the sick list on the binnacle  (stand  containing  ship’s  compass).  It  was placed  there  each  morning  so  that  it  would  be readily  available  for  the  captain.  The  modern binnacle  list  contains  the  names  of  personnel suffering  minor  complaints  that  preclude  their employment  on  strenuous  duty.  Today  the  sick list  contains  the  names  of  personnel  who  are hospitalized. BITTER END Bitter end was originally the turn of a cable’s end around the bitts. It now refers to the end of the chain cable secured in the chain locker or the loose end of a line. In all cases the inboard end is referred to as the bitter end. BLUEJACKET Uniforms  first  adopted  for  the  Royal  Navy included   a   short,   blue   jacket.   No   universal uniform  was  prescribed  for  U.S.  Navy  enlisted personnel until the 1850s. Therefore, in the early days of that century, many men unofficially wore the  blue  jacket  of  the  Royal  Navy.  Enlisted personnel  are  sometimes  referred  to  as   blue- jackets.  The  term  white  hat  is  used  to  refer  to Navy  enlisted  personnel  below  the  rate  of  chief petty   officer. BOATSWAIN Boatswain  is  pronounced  bo’-sun.  Swain  or swein  is  the  Saxon  word  for  servant  or  boy.  In our Navy, boatswain refers to a warrant or petty officer  in  charge  of  the  deck  crew.  It  also  refers to  those  responsible  for  the  maintenance  of  the ship’s  hull  and  external  equipment. BOATSWAIN’S   PIPE The  boatswain’s   pipe   is  an  article  of  great antiquity.   Originally   employed   to   “call   the stroke” in ancient row galleys, it became, in the early  English  Navy,  a  badge  of  office  and  of honor.   Later   the   pipe   became   the   distinctive emblem  of  the  boatswain  and  his  mates.  Today boatswain’s mates use the pipe when the “word is passed,” when officers are piped over the side, and  so  forth. BRIG Lord Nelson used a brig (a type of sailing ship) in  battle  for  removing  prisoners  from  his  ships; hence, prisons at sea came to be known as brigs. BUMBOAT The bumboat  is a boat employed by civilians to carry salable provisions, vegetables, and small merchandise  to  ships.  The  term  may  have  been derived  from  “boom-boat,”  indicating  boats permitted  to  lie  at  the  ships’  booms. CARRY  ON In  the  days  of  sail,  the  officer  of  the  deck constantly  kept  a  weather  eye  on  the  slightest change  in  wind  so  that  sail  could  be  reefed  or added as necessary to ensure the fastest headway. Whenever  a  good  breeze  came  along,  the  order to  “carry  on”  would  be  given.  It  meant  to  hoist every bit of canvas the yards could carry. Pity the poor  sailor  whose  weather  eye  failed  him  and allowed the ship to be caught partially reefed when a  good  breeze  arrived. Through the centuries the term’s connotation has  changed  somewhat.  Today,  the  Bluejackets Manual  defines  carry on as  an  order  to  resume work; work not so grueling as two centuries ago. CAULK Caulk,  commonly  mispronounced  “cork,” means to pack a seam in the planking of a ship. When  caulking  wooden  ships  in  dry  dock, workmen  usually  had  to  lie  on  their  backs underneath  the  hull.  In  this  position  it  was  not difficult  to  fall  asleep.  Hence,  to  “take  a  caulk” or  to  “caulk  off”  is  the  sailors’  expression  for sleeping  or  taking  a  nap. AII-2

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